> If I threw myself off the library roof today, would it be so bad? I think everyone else
>would just go on as normal.
Well there are people in your life that it would hurt, plus there is a
chance that you could find happiness, isn't that worth the pain?
Web Page at: http://www.robertpo.com
>The ex-suicide opens his front door, sits down on the steps, and laughs. Since
>he has the option of being dead, he has nothing to lose by being alive. It is
>good to be alive. he goes to work because he doesn't have to.
Nice. It works for a while, sometimes, this acceptance of the suicide within us,
and the knowledge that we live life with absolutely nothing to lose, because we
don't have to live at all. We can be free to step back and laugh at the folly of
man in this transient material world.
And then those transient material neurotransmitters in our heads kick our butts
again. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, what's the point of it all? If I believed
in god I would say that we are the chosen ones given the greatest challenge.
Translate that into a nontheism and you know why I go on, when there seems no
Keith, Lord_Tera byte @ mad.scientist.c o m
(remove all spaces to reply)
as of 12/5/99, we have 391 days until the new millenium
Still Bipolar Susan
The following is an excerpt from Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book
by Walker Percy Washington Square Press, 1983. Percy was a psychiatrist and
writer, and struggled with suicidal desires himself.
The passage is lengthy, but worth reading. I'd be curious to know what others
think about it.
Thought Experiment: A New Cure for Depression
The only cure for depression is suicide.
This is not meant as a bad joke but as the serious proposal of suicide as a
valid option. Unless the option is entertained seriously, its therapeauptic
value is lost. No threat is credible unless the threatener means it.
This treatment of depression requires a reversal of the usual therapeautic
rationale. The therapeautic rationale, which has never been questioned, is
that depression is a symptom. A symptom implies an illness; ther is something
wrong with you. An illness should be treated.
Suppose you are depressed. You may be mildly or seriously depressed,
clinically depressed, or suicidal. What do you usually do? Or what does one
do with you? Do nothing or something. If something, what is done is always
based on the premise that something is wrong with you and therefore should be
remedied. You are treated. You apply to friend, counselor, physician,
minister, group. You take a trip, take antidepressant drugs, change jobs,
change wife or husband or "sexual partner."
Now call into question the unspoken assumption: something is wrong with you.
Like Copernicus and Einstein, turn the universe upside down and begin with a
Assume that you are quite right. you are depressed because you have every
reason to be depressed. No member of the other two million species which
inhabit the earth--and who are luckily exempt from depression--would fail to be
depressed if it led the life you lead. You live in a deranged age--more
deranged than usual, because despite great scientific and technological
advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing.
Begin with the reverse hypothesis, like Copernicus and Einstein. You are
depressed because you should be. You are entitled to your depression. In
fact, you'd be deranged if you were not depressed. Consider the only adults
who are never depressed: chuckleheads, California surfers, and fundamentalist
Christians who believe they have had a personal encounter with Jesus and been
saved once and for all. Would you trade your depression to become any one of
Now consider, not the usual therapeautic approach, but a more ancient an
honorable alternative, the Roman option. I do not care for life in this
deranged world, it is not an honorable way to live; therefore, like Cato, I
take my leave. Or, as Ivan said to God in the Brothers Karamazov: If you
exist, I respectfully return my ticket.
Now notice that as soon as suicide is taken as a serious alternative, a curious
thing happens. To be or not to be becomes a true choice, where before you were
stuck with to be. your only choice was how to be least painfully, whether by
counseling, narcotizing, boozing, groupizing, womanizing, man-hopping, or
changing your sexual preference.
If you are serious about the choice, certain consequences follow. Consider the
alternatives. Suppose you elect suicide. Very well. You exit. Then what?
What happens after you exit? Nothing much. Very little indeed. After a
ripple or two, the water closes over your head as if you had never existed.
You are not indispensible, after all. you are not even a black hole in the
cosmos. All that stress and anxiety was for nothing. Your fellow townsmen
will have something to talk about for a few days. Your neighbors will profess
shock and enjoy it. One or two might miss you, perhaps your family, who will
also resent the disgrace. Your creditors will resent the inconvenience. Your
lawyers will be pleased. Your psychiatrist will be displeased. The priest or
minister or rabbi will say a few words over you and down you will go on the
green tapes and that will be the end of you. In a suprisingly short time,
everyone is back in the rut of his own self as if you had never existed.
Now, in the light of this alternative, consider the other alternative. You can
elect suicide, but decide not to. What happens? All at once, you are
dispensed. Why not live, instead of dying? You are free to do so. You are
like a prisoner released from the cell of his life. You notice that the door
to the cell is ajar and the sun is shining outside. Why not take a walk down
the street? Where you might have been dead, you are alive. The sun is
Suddenly you feel like a castaway on an island. You can't believe your good
fortune. You feel for broken bones. You are in one piece, sole survivor of a
foundered ship whose captiain and crew have worried themselves into a fatal
funk. And here you are, cast up on a beach and taken in by islanders who, it
turns out, are themselves worried sick--over what? Over status, saving face,
self-esteem, national rivalries, boredom, anxiety, depression from which they
seek relief mainly in wars and the natural catastrophes which regualarly
overtake their neighbors.
And you, an ex-suicide, lying on the beach? In what way have you been freed by
the serious entertainment of your hypothetical suicide? Are you not free for
the first time in your life to consider the folly of man, the most absurd of
all the species, and to contemplate the comic mystery of your own existence?
And even to consider which is the more absurd state of affairs, the manifest
absurdity of your predicament: lost in the cosmos of how you got into such a
fix or how to get out--or the even more preposterous eventuality that news did
come from the God of the cosmos, who took pity on your ridiculous plight and
entered the space and time of your insignificant planet to tell you something.
The consequences of entertainable suicide? Lying on the beach, you are free
for the first time in your life to pick up a coquina and look at it. You are
even free to go home and, like the man from Chicago, dance with your wife.
The difference between a non-suicide and an ex-suicide leaving the house for
work, at eight o'clock on an ordinary morning:
The non-suicide is a little traveling suck of care, sucking care with him from
the past and being sucked toward care in the future. His breat is high in his
The ex-suicide opens his front door, sits down on the steps, and laughs. Since
he has the option of being dead, he has nothing to lose by being alive. It is
good to be alive. he goes to work because he doesn't have to.
It's been lovely but I have to scream now.
I guess the unwritten part of Percy's "instruction manual" would read..."Repeat
"You used me like an ashtray heart, hid me behind the curtain, waited for me to
Captain Beefheart, "Ashtray Heart"
Excellent point. I've done it
Didn't say I totally agreed with the piece--it's just something I've thought
Percy's method works only when the mind is rational, and suicidal minds
I know, Keith, and I agree here. I know that those errant chemicals always get
us in the end. I see the flaws in Percy's argument while appreciating the
insights he offers.
>Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, what's the point of it all?
I wish I knew. Maybe you're right that defiance of the inevitable is the way
to sustain one's own strength.
Hope you are getting along OK.
Keith, Lord_Tera byte @ mad.scientist.c o m
(remove all spaces to reply)
as of 12/6/99, we have 390 days left until the new millenium